The Pepsi Challenge: a blind taste test started an expensive war

The other problematic issue: the taste tests were conducted among people originally selected to taste test Diet Coke, so they were virtually all on diets and restricted from sweet things so they likely had higher then normal cravings for them.

The Pepsi Challenge was easy to rig by controlling which containers were cooler and more recently opened.

“Do you prefer effervescent cool Pepsi or flat warm Coke?”


The old man began to speak. . .

“Sit down kids, and I’ll tell you about your grandpa’s time on the front lines during the Cola Wars. It was 1985, and yer grandpa was walking through Westfarms Mall on the Hartford/West Hartford line, what I thought was the demilitarized zone, I quickly learned otherwise. Suddenly, up popped a table asking me to “take the Pespi Challenge”, I was in the thick of it fer sure. Well, I was never one to shy away from a challenge, so I had to bite. . . errr. . . drink, and drink I sure did. Each taste of Pepsi or Coke got me ansty for more, I was hooked.”

“Is that how you lost your teeth, Grandpa?”

“Hell NO, I lost my teeth in a drunken fight with a couple lesbians in some hippy bar in Seattle in 1991, during my ‘grunge years.’ The only wound I got from the Cola Wars was my diabetes! Now. . . where was I . . . . ?”

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Top of the list… obvs. :wink:

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I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the crackers yet. As I recall, they always served you the Coke and the Pepsi in the same order. I don’t know which came first. And, you were given a Saltine cracker to eat between samples. Or at least this was the process during one phase of the Pepsi Challenge. It was to “cleanse your palate” so they said, but subsequent tests showed that it greatly affected your preference.

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When I was a kid my friends and I thought the Nestea Plunge was a thing people actually did, not just an advertisement. So at the local pool we would all do the Nestea Plunge, sans the Nestea of course. That didn’t last very long because nobody could figure out what was supposed to be so enjoyable about it. In the end I think we figured that it must be like beer – something that only adults like – and so none of us wanted to drink Nestea because it was clearly for adults. Kid logic.


Obligatory soda trivia time…

Pepsi was once a major naval power:

Fanta is Nazi Coke:

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Yep. Pepsi tastes a lot sweeter after salty foods.

I grew up during the cola wars, and they had some interesting side battles I got to witness. My church youth group every year did a dance marathon – just 18 hours, no “winners” or anything, just fund raising by getting people to pledge to donate a certain $/hour of dancing then showing up and moving to music on a certain Saturday. Naturally, a hundred or so kids being energetic for that long got really thirsty, and some caffeine and sugar came in handy as well, so the adults got donations from the local bottlers of soda for the event. The thing was, neither Coca-Cola nor Pepsi’s bottlers would donate enough for the entire event, but also insisted that we only serve their product by itself, not with their competition. So, we’d start with Coke’s products, and run with that until it ran out of the popular flavors, then switch to Pepsi’s products until that ran out of the good stuff, by which time it was pretty late, the media was long gone, and all the non-participants had left the building. After that, we’d alternate with what was left (diet soda, regional sodas that we didn’t usually see around, even new stuff they were test-marketing), still taking care not to mix them in case someone noticed. Weird times.

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